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After Difficult Loss, Steve Wilks, Cardinals Look For Answers

Taylor reportedly to be released as changes considered

The Cardinals walk off the field after the Raiders kicked the game-winning field goal Sunday.
The Cardinals walk off the field after the Raiders kicked the game-winning field goal Sunday.

Steve Wilks, 11 weeks into his first regular-season as a head coach and saddled with a 2-8 record, was talking Monday about what he has learned.

"You have to learn how to persevere," Wilks said, letting out a small wistful chuckle.

The Cardinals lost Sunday to the struggling Raiders, an upset even with the Cards' own disappointing record. It was the fifth home loss in six chances, a recipe that produces trouble in the NFL.

"It's tough," Wilks said. "You've got to learn how to learn to hit the reset button and not linger on things. I try to pull out the positive and learn from the negative stuff."

"It is a hard process, and I knew it would be hard coming in," Wilks added. "Did I expect to be where we are? No."

Changes are ongoing, in all facets. While there was no official announcement, there was a report Monday the team will release cornerback Jamar Taylor, who began the year as a starter before being demoted. Taylor was beat by Raiders tight end Jared Cook for a touchdown early in Sunday's game and subsequently lost snaps to newcomer Leonard Johnson.

There could be more changes, although when asked directly if rookie tackle Korey Cunningham – who played pretty well subbing for injured left tackle D.J. Humphries Sunday – could slide over to take right tackle for the struggling Andre Smith, Wilks said Cunningham probably would be the backup swing tackle.

Otherwise, "based on where we are, we are open to a lot of anything," Wilks said. "There are some things we have talked about that we are probably going to try and make some moves on."

Wilks has also restructured practice and added an extra walkthrough and more walkthrough time during the week with more reps, as the Cardinals try to adjust to new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich in-season.

"We're trying to keep the guys engaged, we're trying to get them out of the meeting rooms, get them up and moving around a little bit," Wilks said. "I'm constantly trying to evolve."

Whether that can translate to better play on the field has yet to materialize. The Raiders' loss was a killer, not just because it was a loss but because the Cardinals did so many things to throw away the chance to win.

"It's not playing smart, just beating ourselves," safety Antoine Bethea said. "That's the most frustrating thing about it. Week in and week out, it's just like the same thing. We're saying, 'We're getting better.' During the game, (there's) a play here and a play there, but eventually we've got to start making that play. We can't be making the same mistakes. That's the frustrating thing about it. We're playing hard. We're trying to do it, but we've just got to learn how to win."

The Cardinals got two first-quarter touchdowns against the Raiders, but the offense went dormant until their lone TD drive of the fourth quarter – allowing the Cards to score at least 20 points for only the second time this season.

Both sides of the ball combined to allow the Raiders to win, whether it was dropped passes and easily preventable penalties on offense or dropped interceptions and misplayed technique on defense.

During his appearance on 98.7, Arizona's Sports Station, following his press conference, Wilks was told it seemed as if he is being tested this season.

"Beyond," Wilks said bluntly, drawing a laugh. "That's a damn understatement."

Wilks said the leaders in the locker room will help keep the players focused as they head into a road game against the Chargers Sunday. He made sure the coaches knew that players "are going to feed off our energy."

Wilks hasn't gotten deep into answering about how he feels about his job status, emphasizing he's about trying to win a game each week.

"I'm not going to quit," Wilks said. "That's what I just told the guys. And neither are they. We have to find a way to get on track."


Wilks said the one serious injury from Sunday was the chest contusion for linebacker Deone Bucannon, but he did not yet know how much time Bucannon might miss. He said he was hopeful the players that missed this week's game – tackle D.J. Humphries, kicker Phil Dawson, wide receiver Chad Williams, defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche and safety Budda Baker -- could return for the Chargers' game. …

With Dawson returning to health, the Cardinals released kicker Matt McCrane, who made all three of his extra-point attempts Sunday. …

On the subject of fans being angry at how the team has played Wilks said "they should be."

"I'm disappointed in our performance," he added. "We've got great fans and they deserve better." …

Some of the best images from the Cardinals' Week 11 contest against Oakland